Mathew J. Vetticatt, William D. Wulff, Rui H. Huang, Wenjun Zhao, Anil K. Gupta, Gang Hu, Wynter E. G. Osminski, Joseph A. Izzo, Li Huang, Xiaopeng Yin
VANOL and VAPOL ligands are known to react with three equivalents of B(OPh)3 to form a catalytic species that contains a boroxinate core with three boron atoms, and these have proven to be effective catalysts for a number of reactions. However, it was not known whether the closely related BINOL ligand will likewise form a boroxinate species. It had simply been observed that mixtures of BINOL and B(OPh)3 were very poor catalysts compared to the same mixtures with VANOL or VAPOL. Borate esters of BINOL have been investigated as chiral catalysts, and these include meso-borates, spiro-borates, and diborabicyclo-borate esters. Borate esters are often in equilibrium, and their structures can be determined by stoichiometry and/or thermodynamics, especially in the presence of a base. The present study examines the structures of borate esters of BINOL that are produced with different stoichiometric combinations of BINOL with B(OPh)3 in the presence and absence of a base. Depending on conditions, pyro-borates, spiro-borates, and boroxinate species can be generated and their effectiveness in a catalytic asymmetric aziridination was evaluated. The finding is that BINOL borate species are not necessarily inferior catalysts to those of VANOL and VAPOL but that, under the conditions, BINOL forms two different catalytic species (a boroxinate and a spiro-borate) that give opposite asymmetric inductions. However, many BINOL derivatives with substitutents in the 3- and 3′-positions gave only the boroxinate species and the 3,3′-Ph2BINOL ligand gave a boroxinate catalyst that gives excellent inductions in the aziridination reaction. BINOL derivatives with larger groups in the 3,3′-position will not form either spiro-borates or boroxinate species and thus are not effective catalysts at all.